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Exterior view of sand-colored, multi-level villas enclosed by privacy walls and surrounded by the desert and sky

Cultural Treasures

Ras Al Khaimah combines history with modern Arabic culture for a mixture that’s hard to replicate. With a culture dating back thousands of years, archaeological sites sit next to traditional souqs and camel tracks. Set in a backdrop of warm, golden deserts and white-sand beaches, the confluence of the modern and the ancient is a uniquely appealing mix. From forts to desert dinners, experience the culture of Ras Al Khaimah firsthand.

Day

1

MORNING
  • Discover the Mohammed bin Salem Mosque.

    No one knows for sure, but records seem to suggest that people have been gathering to pray at the site of the current-day Mohammed bin Salem Mosque for over 400 years. Excavation work in recent years found the foundations of a smaller 18th century mosque that was destroyed and built over. In a series of more recent renovations, the original minaret has been restored along with stripping back other modern additions to the coral stone and beach rock building.

MIDDAY
  • Explore the National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah.

    Start by taking in the exterior of the building itself, a centuries-old fort that was the residence of the Qawassim rulers until 1964. Move inside for exhibits focused on regional history and archaeological exhibits, including pieces from the important port of Julfar.

AFTERNOON
  • Lunch at Yansoon.

    Settle in for lunch at Yansoon, a restaurant in the natural mangroves of RAK Creek off the busy street of Al Qawasim Corniche. Yansoon specializes in Levantine food, including mezza, manakish and saj, charcoal-grilled meats and other dishes from the Eastern Mediterranean.

  • Old Souq.

    The souq comprises a few easily walkable streets of shops. Pick up authentic handmade textiles, local pottery and other trinkets to take home as memories of your stay.

EVENING
  • Desert Dining.

    The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert is on a 500-hectare nature reserve. Take full advantage of your proximity to nature with dinner at the Al Wadi Tower, modeled after a traditional Arabian watchtower. Dine in a private and luxurious setting, complete with your own private waiter, while taking in the essence of traditional outdoor desert dining.

Day

2

MORNING
  • Go Horseback Riding.

    Arabian horses are famous worldwide. Saddle up for your own turn riding at the Al Wadi Equestrian Center. If you are feeling more adventurous, camel rides are available for the whole family, as well.

MIDDAY
  • Visit the old Al Jazirah Al Hamra.

    Explore the last authentic and traditional town still standing in the UAE, with coral-stone architecture ranging from simple buildings to ornate courtyard homes of the wealthy. Occupied until the mid-20th century by inhabitants who lived off maritime and pearl trading, the town is now a peaceful look into life in the area before the discovery of oil brought modernization to the region.

AFTERNOON
  • Coffee Break.

    Get inside during the heat of the afternoon with a late lunch break at Shakespeare & Co., part of a local mini-chain tucked inside the region’s largest mall, the Al Naeem. Enjoy a global menu in an ornate setting, including a wide range of iced beverages and mocktails.

EVENING
  • Stargazing.

    Take a guided walk in the Al Wadi desert to see the constellations in a crystal-clear sky, then head back to the Moon Bar to continue being surrounded by the wonder of the landscape. Order small plates and drinks while staring at the night sky that envelops the desert.

Day

3

MORNING
  • Camel Racing.

    Get an early start for the 6:30–9:30 a.m. camel races at the Al Sawan Camel Track, where the riderless camels are encouraged to race around the 10-kilometer track by robots. Grab a taxi to the track (and ask them to wait for you), and take in the time-honored sport with a mostly local crowd.

MIDDAY
  • Seafood Lunch.

    Al Moohit Seafood is a family-run restaurant specializing in the freshest seafood in a casual environment. Try the large platters of mixed grilled seafood to share with the whole table.

  • Dhayah Fort.

    With a stunning backdrop of the mountains, this is the last remaining hilltop fort in the UAE. Offering not just history but also a beautiful view of the lush palm gardens below and out to the sea, the Dhayah Fort played a major role in the resistance against the British in the early 19th century.

AFTERNOON
  • Royal Grounds.

    Qasr Al Zabba (Palace of Zenobia) was built 2,000 years after its namesake, the Queen of Sheba, died, but it remains the only palace extant in the UAE. Climb a stone ladder to access the monument, which is on a high rocky hill allowing for panoramic views of the Ras Al Khaimah region.

EVENING
  • Dine like the Bedouins.

    Go back hundreds of years to experience authentic Bedouin life for the evening, with dinner on the warm sands of the Ras Al Khaimah desert. You can choose from an array of menus including barbecue, seafood and vegetarian options. Enjoy a traditional barbecue comfortably settled in a low-seating Arabic majlis on a sand dune under the night sky.